Posts by Thom Atkinson

Recently we’ve been running a mini-series of posts on “Why faith-in-scholarship?” These attempt to provide reasons for and excite Christian academics to be engaging their disciplines from a distinctly Christian perspective.

Today we thought we’d share with you some aims of the FiSch Fellows, the team of us who write this blog wanting to see Christians pursuing their calling to live for Christ in the academy.

Faith-in-scholarship (FiSch) pursues three types of activity:

One of the things we are aiming to do through Faith-in-Scholarship is to direct Christian postgraduates (and others) to helpful resources and initiatives. This week I wanted to draw your attention to a book that helped me understand the academic task from a Christian worldview. This book is Cornelius Plantinga’s “Engaging God’s World: A Christian vision of faith, learning and living”.

Research is an adventure into the unknown. As such, it’s risky business. What happens when things go wrong? Sometimes a project you’ve been working on for long hours turns out to lead nowhere. You’ve poured your energies into a big plan, only to find it doesn’t work. You may even suffer the blow of being pre-empted in publishing something that was your ‘baby’ – your big idea to show the world. At such times it’s easy for scary questions to enter our minds: Am I a waste of time? Am I not good enough to be an academic?

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Mark 9:35

Having “Christ as Lord over x” has been extensively discussed in recent posts. We have seen that explaining what this means within whatever sphere of life or study we find ourselves in can be difficult but also rewarding. Philosophy is no exception.  Christian Philosophy[1] began to make a comeback some thirty years ago, and  the Evangelical Philosophical Society has an ongoing project devoted to the topic of clarifying what it means to do “Christ-shaped philosophy”. Since the project is so vast and this blog post so short I shan’t offer an answer to this. But I can offer some guidelines.

Anti-intellectualism in the church has been well documented (Noll 1995) and is still a problem for Christian academics today. It may appear in many guises, but one is what Don Carson calls “blue-collar arrogance”[1]. This is the idea that if you can’t do something practical – so that others can see the direct benefit or fruit of it, your job is fairly pointless. I encountered this recently when I was asked, “don’t you want to become a lawyer, teacher or vicar? In those jobs you can help people, serve the Church financially or serve the Church theologically and pastorally.”

In the last blog post Eline wrote that the main aim of Christian postgraduate groups is “to help each other to live out our calling as Christian postgraduates,” explaining that “As a Christian postgraduate, you are called to carry out your research in a way that is faithful – filled with faith, and faithful to God’s purposes.”

But what does this look like for our groups? What should we do in our meetings in order to encourage one another to carry out our research in a way that is faithful – filled with faith, and faithful to God’s purposes? I want to suggest seven ways in which this might be done.

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